Pacific Motorcycles' Red Rocker
By Anthony van Someren - 25 Nov 13
The last time we heard from Alan, he was a humble shed-builder who had put together a really nice looking Suzuki GS550, AKA Stray Dog, which impressed us a lot and was a very popular bike, and now he's back as part of New Zealand workshop The Pacific Motorcycle Co, with this stand-out build, the Red Rocker. The Pacific Motorcycle Co was set up out of an existing motorcycle dealership in Nelson on the South Island (or the mainland, as locals call it), which moved into restoring British Classics, but this is their first proper custom build, and it's a pretty big statement. PMC owner, Ron Smith, had designs on the Red Rocker for some time. The donor was a battered old 1974 Honda CB350 twin that had been sitting around the shop for a while, as the owner, Ian, had given up on rebuilding her and handed her over - for a better future. As the CB350 has been 'done to death' Ron wanted to do something really different, and you won't be surprised to hear that the main design inspiration for the bike was the 1950s Corvette, with it's distinctive scallops in the wings and doors. After a very rough render in Photoshop the work started. First up the bike was completely dismantled and any unnecessary parts discarded. "The standard CB frame is a bit ugly to say the least with its pressed steel and spot welded gussets, so that was tidied up, including a rolled trim around the inside of the frame, a rear loop with fillets to keep clean lines on the back of the frame to accommodate the seat unit and any unused tabs were ground off." The next thing was the tank, which was going to be the focal point of the bike. "The Corvette Stingray from the 50’s was used as some inspiration, so the tank was cut and extended by six inches, scallops were cut out either side and new rolled steel panels welded in to mimic the Stingray style. The original fuel capacity is still as original as the extension part of the tank was reserved to hide the lithium battery." Taking a leaf out of the 1950's automotive design-book, it was clear that to go the whole-hog, the engine also had to be red - it was also reminiscent of the original Honda Red Rocket which spawned the bike's name. "In the style of Honda’s famous Red Rocket, where the frame and engine was red, is where the name was derived from, but christened Red Rocker as a play on words to the café racer scene. Engine internals have been lightly enhanced with a big bore using CB750 pistons, a ground camshaft and a bit of port & polishing." The theme also extended to the pipes. "The exhaust was a major area where we wanted to do something different, so the whole exhaust system was fabricated in house so that both headers were equal, then came together via a collector/muffler unit under the seat before exiting out the rear of the bike. It was quite a task to get it lined-up and fitting exactly, but satisfying when it was achieved, finished in red (of course) with a triple coat internal heat proofing and some much needed polished heat-shields." "Another kind of theme that began to take over were the slots seen in the heat-shields, front air-scoop (which hides some of the electrics), chain-guard and headlight bracket, all manufactured in house. Going back to the air-scoop, we decided to make this originally to clean up the front of the frame as it’s uneven at the front to mount the engine, so we decided to cover it, but it also makes for a great place to hide things!" Ron & Alan also wanted to use as few off the shelf parts as possible, and manufactured their own components wherever they could, such as the polished aluminium rear sets, tail-light, bell-mouths, aluminium fork boots, fork tops, exhaust clamps, tailpipe surround and much more. "The only thing we couldn’t handle was the Pacific logo on top of the handlebar clamp which was CNC machined by Topliss Brothers Engineering." The guys decided to keep a few parts from the original bike, including the speedo and tacho, as this worked with the Lossa clubman bars, although Pacific Motor Co logos were overlayed on the dials. The front mudguard is an old Suzuki 125 item with a Roland Sands Harley fork brace that the guys had lying around. It needed a bit of alteration to fit, but it did the job. The seat unit was also made by Pacific, their first attempt at laying fibreglass. "Lessons were learned for sure and it will be a much quicker task next time, we made the ‘plug’ and from that a mold was made for the final unit you see here, sounds simple, but wasn’t." "It was then time to strip and get everything painted and powder-coated, plated etc. a few parts were zinc plated too. As soon as the frame and tank came back, we knew it was going to look extreme, but that was the intention, to grab people’s attention!" The seat pad was given a quilted pattern, again to stand out from the norm, and this also found its way into the grips as there was nothing off the shelf that they guys liked the look of, so they had to be custom made too. For a debut build by a new company this build is a stunning calling card, and we're extremely impressed. "We just about achieved what we set out to do with Red Rocker, which was a team build with Ron, Alan, Lee & JD all having had a significant hand in the build. We really wanted to see just what we could come up with and what we were capable of for our first build. Not all Pacific bikes will be quite like this, some more everyday rider customs are now on the agenda, but this one was to grab attention and to show what we could do." Previous owner, Ian, was also blown away when he saw what the guys had done to his little box of Honda bits. Thanks go to; Andy at Imperial, Topliss Engineering, Nelson Powder-Coaters, Custom Colours, Nelson Motor Bodies (zinc plating), Ashley (for help with the seat unit) and Mortimer Upholstery. We hope to see more from The Pacific Motorcycle Co on the Bike Shed soon. meanwhile. check out their Website.